REVIEW: We’ve Only Just Begun,

A tribute to The Carpenters,

Regent, Christchurch.

BETWEEN 1969 and 1983 – when Karen Carpenter died aged just 32 – The Carpenters successfully toured the world, producing over a dozen original best-selling albums.

Their songs always featured intelligent lyrics, gorgeous harmonies, Richard Carpenter’s subtle arrangements, and the irresistible warm rich voice of his sister Karen.

This outstanding tribute show conveys their unique sound, and it’s all live, with no miming or pre-recorded backing tracks.

The superb band is from Dublin and features Musical Director Eugene McCarthy on keyboards, plus fantastic guitar, sax, flute, trumpet, flugelhorn, bass, drums, and backing vocalists.

As Karen Carpenter, Toni Lee looks and sounds uncannily like the American superstar, delivering the challenging vocals – the long lyric lines and those tricky low notes – with a clear and heartfelt love of the Carpenters’ songs.

Particularly effective are the overhead projections, especially featuring childhood photos of the duo behind the powerfully nostalgic Yesterday Once More and interviews with family friends regarding Karen’s illnesses – anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

Her short-lived sad marriage is reinforced by her anthems – the aching I Know I Need To Be In Love, the bittersweet Rainy Days And Mondays and the prophetic Goodbye To Love.

The fantastic finale features the bouncy Top Of The World, the moving Solitaire, the yearning Desperado, and the melancholic I Won’t Last A Day Without You.

As a Carpenters’ fan, I’ve reviewed several tribute shows – this is the very best.

Plays Eastleigh Concorde Club this Saturday.

Brendan McCusker